This was the highlight of Christi Williams’ summer experience as an aide assisting with the preschool and kindergarten classroom during the Migrant Summer School Program in the Clarkton C-4 School District in Clarkton, Missouri.
“We got to meet some of the families of these students and show them some of the work we have been doing. We had a slideshow of pictures and a dinner, and each child received a backpack,” she said. “It was an awesome feeling to see the pride in the faces of the children and parents when they got to share their work, knowing I had a part in what they had accomplished.”
Williams, a Clarkton native, is a senior elementary and exceptional child education major at Southeast Missouri-State University-Malden. She put her skills to work in the Migrant and English Language Learner (MELL) summer school program, a month-long educational program hosted by the Southeast Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC) to help bridge the gaps in education that many Migrant and English Language Learners may face due to cultural differences or transient lifestyles.
The program benefits students who may miss up to eight weeks of instruction during the regular school year. MELL, which operated sites this summer in both Clarkton and Senath, Missouri, shores up some of those missed learning opportunities so children can be more successful during the school year.
“From this experience I have learned that students from different cultures can benefit greatly from education and succeed if someone will believe in them and give them the support they need,” Williams said. “I have also learned many things from the professional development that I will be able to use in my future classroom. The training I have received has been phenomenal.”
She said her duties varied greatly from day to day, offering her opportunities to give math and reading lessons some days, assist students individually who were struggling, and help document the students’ progress with digital photos and videos for portfolios. She attended professional development classes with the RPDC visiting every week which provided her with tips to use in her future classroom.
“Every Friday we had educational field trips, and I got the opportunity to experience a trip to the Bootheel Youth Museum in Malden, an informative fishing workshop and trip to a lake, and a trip to the Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee,” she said.
“It was a great experience, and I highly recommend anyone who gets the opportunity to apply in the future to do so,” Williams added. “From this opportunity I have gained a greater understanding of Migrant and English Language Learners and how to help them receive a better education.”
At Southeast’s Malden Campus, Williams is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society, and of Phi Kappa Phi honor society. A non-traditional student and mother of an eight-year-old, she plans to graduate from Southeast next May. After that, Williams said she hopes to work with younger children in the Exceptional Child Education field.
“This was my first opportunity to work with preschool and kindergarten children, and I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would,” she said.
Williams said she also plans to pursue a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other languages (TESOL)/English Language Learners (ELL) in the future.
“I am excited about the opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives through education,” she said. “I look forward to being able to help learners with obstacles achieve the greatest possible outcomes.”